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Thu Feb 14, 2013, 08:32 AM

Are liberals being hypocrites about Obama’s wars?



Maybe liberals don't criticize Obama's foreign policy because American liberalism has always been pro-intervention

BY ALEX PAREENE


The Atlantic’s resident thoughtful apostate conservative Conor Friedersdorf published a piece this morning arguing that progressives who furiously fought against Bush’s “war on terror” have internalized many of its central tenets, now that it’s being waged by Barack Obama. Friedersdorf says liberals made various critiques of Bush’s foreign misadventures — that they caused “blowback,” that they were an abuse of executive power, and that they implied a forever war without any possibility of an ending — that they are now largely not making against Obama, even though all those arguments still apply.

The reason for this, according to Friedersdorf, is that everyone hated Bush and knew he was incompetent, but people like Obama because he’s clearly smart and conscientious, which causes people to defend actions they would have criticized under his predecessor:

Their ideology leaves them strangely unequipped to grapple with power abuses by a man whose personality they like and whose political philosophy they largely embrace.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who has observed uncritical progressive hero worship for Woodrow Wilson and FDR*. Progressives and neoconservatives share a proclivity for romanticizing the ability of powerful presidents to heroically and unilaterally push through the energetic policies they favor. If you want to understand why Glenn Greenwald so often clashes with his fellow progressives, it is partly because he believes much more than they do that concentrated power is always dangerous — that process and formal limits on power are always important. You’d think that the sorry civil-liberties records of bygone progressive politicians would make today’s progressives more attuned to their ideology’s most dangerous proclivities.


-snip-

http://www.salon.com/2013/02/13/are_liberals_really_being_hypocrites_about_obamas_wars/

Link to Conor Friedersdorf column:
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/02/progressives-are-internalizing-hawkish-war-on-terror-claims/273102/

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Arrow 31 replies Author Time Post
Reply Are liberals being hypocrites about Obama’s wars? (Original post)
DonViejo Feb 2013 OP
get the red out Feb 2013 #1
leveymg Feb 2013 #2
zipplewrath Feb 2013 #7
think Feb 2013 #3
leveymg Feb 2013 #10
think Feb 2013 #14
leveymg Feb 2013 #18
Douglas Carpenter Feb 2013 #16
creon Feb 2013 #4
zipplewrath Feb 2013 #8
creon Feb 2013 #19
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #5
Bonobo Feb 2013 #6
alcibiades_mystery Feb 2013 #9
Doctor_J Feb 2013 #11
Jakes Progress Feb 2013 #12
geek tragedy Feb 2013 #13
CheapShotArtist Feb 2013 #15
Douglas Carpenter Feb 2013 #17
rachel1 Feb 2013 #22
treestar Feb 2013 #31
bigwillq Feb 2013 #20
tblue Feb 2013 #21
jazzimov Feb 2013 #23
struggle4progress Feb 2013 #24
quaker bill Feb 2013 #25
cantbeserious Feb 2013 #26
Laelth Feb 2013 #27
panzerfaust Feb 2013 #28
DFW Feb 2013 #29
mikekohr Feb 2013 #30

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 08:38 AM

1. There are also different priorities

I think that "liberals" often have different top priorities in mind. For many ending war is the top priority, which is fine; but for others it might be reproductive rights, healthcare availability, improving the social safety net, or ending the war on drugs etc.... This doesn't mean that the people who do not put the anti-war stance as their top priority are not supportive of it, I just think different people have different issues that take center stage for them.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 08:39 AM

2. The more recent example is the Cold War Liberals of the Johnson era who embraced the Vietnam War

There's long been a split within the Democratic Party between the anticommunist ADA faction, the Harry Truman Wing, and the Progressive wing of Henry Wallace and Eleanore Roosevelt. That rift never really healed, and is evident again. I think Friedersdorf needs to be reminded about that.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:07 AM

7. Bingo

The pacifists have always been a minority, even within the Democratic Party. Occasionally, especially when there is a GOP president, the democrats like to send out the pacifists to complain. But as soon as there is a Democratic President, they try to stuff them back into the closet. LBJ is seen both as an aberration, and something to never be repeated.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 09:01 AM

3. Dem party is a much bigger tent now days so it is understandable

Third wayers, Reagan Dems, Moderate Republicans, and other factions all live under the tent. Still it is the hopes of some progressives like myself that the true nature and causes of war will someday be better understood.

Sure there are acceptable conditions for a military to defend a nation and that will never change. There are legitimate threats to our country and the foreign assets of multinational corporations that call America home.

But the immorality, pains, deaths, and long term social and economic costs of war should never be allowed to be accepted as the new normal. The true reasons for the majority of our wars needs to be made clear to the American people.

As one who is staunchly antiwar I refuse to sit quietly while American imperialism denies people in third world countries the same rights and freedoms we enjoy here in the USA. It is a hypocritical and outdated form of ethnocentric elitism that must be confronted for what it is no matter the lies spewed by the war machine to perpetuate it's fiscal and social control over the poor and working classes.

When drone strikes are launched from secret military bases in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to indiscriminately kill anyone considered a potential military threat to our American oil and security interests in the dictatorship of Yemen, America does not lead the way with a bright light shining on democracy.

Rather the raw underbelly of fascism is exposed for the dirty and dark corporate authoritarian malfeasance that it is.......

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Response to think (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 11:04 AM

10. Disagree. The Democratic Party tent was biggest in 1964. The Right split off and went Nixon/Reagan.

Some returned as Clinton Dems and Blue Dogs in 1992, but many defected again to Bush in 2000. I don't exactly welcome them back with open arms, but the Party has long been controlled by the Pam Harriman Crowd of big donors who are essentially Rockefeller Republicans and globalists, and all that goes along with that.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 01:23 PM

14. Agree it was larger in 64

But this is the biggest the tent has been since then (IMO). Thanks mostly due to the extremist Pugs going stark raving mad. The clown car of candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination had to embarrass the shit out moderate republicans.


As to the antiwar wings significance and influence in the Dem party it has been bittersweet at best as the party grows and the MSM becomes more entrenched and owned by the corporate elite. The message certainly seems to have been lost.

The antiwar wing of the Dem party isn't huge but it is significant. As the party keeps pushing farther to the right on foreign policy and the military the tent balloons with those that embrace the war on terror, the war on drugs, the Iraq war and other acts of violence as a necessary evil. They trust our leaders and believe that they do these these things in order to protect them from the evil elements in our society and the world.

On a precursory level they are correct in their thinking. But beneath the facade lies a truth of military and corporate profits that pumps the ever ending war machine.

Some Americans still would call you a conspiracy theorist and a nut if you claimed that elements of the Reagan government allowed cocaine to be funneled into the US and dumped on our streets to buy guns to sell to terrorists to buy more guns to pay for their illegal war.

But the facts tell us otherwise. Just ask john Kerry:

http://newsone.com/187661/john-kerry-says-cia-lied-about-iran-contra-cocaine-dealing/

And some must still have truly believed Bush when he said "They hate our freedom." When in all actuality it may be closer to the truth to say "They hate our corporations and military exploiting their countries."

Perhaps that's what they really hate. Yes, there are the religious jihadists that hate us for our religion but much of that is the bastardization of the Christian religion to justify our dominant position in the world both militarily and economically.

The antiwar wing has always been just a tolerated fringe of the Dem party but it's goals have always been a part of the ideals purported by the party both in words and as part of the Dem platform. Unfortunately like you say though, those in control of the party often are part of the globalists and elite that still support wars for profit and protection of their ill gotten & imperial assets in third world countries.

To be clear I am not against foreign investment and ownership by people and corporations. What I am against is the people and corporations who abuse the legal system (HERE in the US as well as in other countries) to exploit the general populace for their financial gain.

Many on DU hate Ron Paul and his followers. I rather enjoy seeing an antiwar wing of the Republican party.

While I overwhelmingly disagree with Paulite libertarianism on the majority of domestic issues; there is much agreement on for me on America's foreign policy and police state issues. In other words I disagree with them less than I do neocons and other pugsters who pump the war machine as well as sucking on domestic issues.

The Pugs pissed off the majority of Paulites big time and it cost Rmoney a huge chunk of voters that were either siphoned off to Gary Johnson or stayed home.

http://www.policymic.com/articles/18815/the-ron-paul-effect-how-the-gop-threw-the-election-by-disenfranchising-ron-paul-supporters

Obama may have won the election handily even without Paul's involvement. But I personally believe Paul exposed a very dark side of the Republican party and damaged the party greatly by doing so. Neocon war was laid naked for many GOPers who never questioned the motives of war before RP stood up and called it out in the debates.

It is refreshing to hear any candidate call out war for what it is. To that end I look forward to Alan Grayson's presence in congress. How I wish more Dems were like him in this regards.

If the majority of Americans understood the corporate underpinnings of war they'd be more vehemently opposed to our constant build up and use of force that creates a huge residual financial cost for our nation.

American blood, sweat, tears, lives, and dollars are being used to protect the assets of multinational corporations. Many of whom evade their tax obligations to America by hidig their profits offshore. Of these corporations many get to enjoy additional tax breaks through loopholes to then steal away American jobs to third world countries. Countries where workers have little rights and unions are violently opposed like in Columbia:

http://killercoke.org/crimes_colombia.php

http://www.workersuniting.org/connect/news/oil-union-leader-murdered-in-colombia

This type of behavior and way of exploiting people in third world countries runs rampant with multinational corporations:

Corporations and Worker’s Rights
by Anup Shah
This Page Last Updated Sunday, May 28, 2006


Structural Adjustment programs of the IMF and World Bank have led to a race to the bottom, where standards of living are continuously reduced. Labor, as one example of this, gets cheaper and cheaper which benefits the multinational companies, but not the workers themselves. Various international trade agreements that large corporations are able to strongly lobby favorable conditions in, are often designed in part to make resources (including work forces) cheaper.

As some corporations and industries become increasingly globalized, they effect more and more people. Take for example the situation in Massachusetts — they were trying to put laws in place to prevent or restrict corporations doing business with regimes that violate certain rights of people in some way — they were pressured by a coalition of 600 major corporations in that State, saying that this is unconstitutional. The judges agreed.

Famous brands like Nike, the Coca-Cola Company, and many others all do this. In some respect it is a cycle of competition driving each other to such measures to keep up and to maximize profits. Nike, for example use cheap labor in South East Asia, where they can get away from the tighter enforcement and regulations of USA and Europe. In fact, they have been exposed for using child labor, as well. Coca Cola for example, have been accused of intimidating workers around the world, even hiring (often indirectly, through intermediaries) paramilitaries to intimidate or kill union leaders....

~Snip~

"Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their good both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people."
— Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book I, (Everyman’s Library, Sixth Printing, 1991), pp. 87-88


~Snip~

There are numerous other political factors, and geopolitical/military factors as well, related to the historic struggle and control for resources, and the wars that have revolved around that to maintain such disparities. ...

~Sip~

Full article:
http://www.globalissues.org/article/57/corporations-and-workers-rights


The American people are being sold the justification for war on terror on a false premise that these terrorists are an imminent threat and actively working to kill Americans here in America. But rather many are targeted for death for fighting the multinational corporations who occupy their land after cutting deals with dictators who could care less about the rights or conditions of its citizens.

So yes these people are a threat to American multinational corporation's personnel and assets in these dictatorships and our military AND private security forces in the region. But this a huge difference in it's nature from a true terrorist attack against American citizens on American soil and the American people deserve to understand these details about these wars we wage that their government is part of.

Smedley Butler said it best. "War is a racket."

War Is a Racket

~Snip~

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket



Smedley Butler

Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, an outspoken critic of U.S. military adventurism, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I....

Full bio:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler


Smedley D. Butler > Quotes

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
― Smedley D. Butler, War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/115545.Smedley_D_Butler

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Response to think (Reply #14)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 04:55 PM

18. This is an original post (and a half). You should put it up on the board so more can read it!

A lot to agree with and make one think about one's assumed positions, here. Bravo!

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Response to think (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:49 PM

16. would you believe Bill Scranton is still alive? I mention him because him because he was at one time

a serious contender for the Republican nomination for President and pretty much an unabashed liberal. People forget that Henry Wallace and Robert M. La Follette rose to national prominence as Republican Party politicians. Today the Democratic Party is pretty much just a coalition of people who are not right-wing nuts ranging from Wall Street moguls, "pragmatic imperialist" and free traders: to New Age vegans and anti-war activist. It may not be as much that the Democratic Party has become a bigger tent as the Republican Party has greatly narrowed its range of acceptable orthodoxy.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 09:14 AM

4. No

Liberalism and pacifism are not the same; and, liberals/progressives have supported the use of force at various times in US history.

The invasion of Iraq was a fatuous war at the wrong place and at the wrong time. It was GWB who decided that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea. Opposing the stupidity of pointless killing and destruction was a good reason to oppose the invasion.

It is logical to oppose war on the grounds of pacifism. It is my view that war is, most of the time, the worst of options.

It is logical to oppose a war on the grounds of immoral objectives ( as some who opposed the Mexican War); or, "it is not our fight"; or, war is an ineffective method to achieve an objective. There is a functional and moral connection between means and ends.

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Response to creon (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:09 AM

8. When all else is gone

War is what you do after you missed all the chances to do the right thing.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 06:39 PM

19. agreed

That is an excellent way to express it.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 09:56 AM

5. Yes, but when it comes to war, we always have been

Interventionism is part of our national character, regardless of party. WWII, Korea, Vietnam...

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 09:57 AM

6. Is there any doubt about it?

Not if we are honest.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:49 AM

9. What do you think, Don?

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 11:14 AM

11. No, but the DINOs are

the DU DINOs anyway

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 11:40 AM

12. The reagan-democrat wing of the party is.

But then, they are not liberals.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 11:48 AM

13. Democrats are very heterodox in terms of foreign policy and use of military force.

Republicans used to be as well. The real change has been the demise of the sane wing of the Republican party.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:02 PM

15. My God, some people are NEVER satisfied no matter what.

Prez. O ended the Iraq War and is drawing down the Afghanistan War, and there have been no major attacks here under his presidency compared to Shrub. And Libertarians and some on the Left have been vocal against his usage of drones, but there have been less of our troops getting killed that way.
He's kept us safe and is ending the wars. What more do people want? Shit...

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Response to CheapShotArtist (Reply #15)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 04:05 PM

17. AMEN!! History has proven over and over and over again that government free from criticism governs

the best. And you are right about drones too - as long as there are secret panels to make these decisions completely unencumbered by prying eyes and nosy do gooders the situation is safe - because history has also proven that only the soundest decisions can only be made in secret behind close doors. Unfortunately at lot these peace mongers just don't get it.

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Response to Douglas Carpenter (Reply #17)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 07:54 PM

22. +100 I couldn't agree more with you, Douglas Carpenter

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Response to CheapShotArtist (Reply #15)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 03:01 PM

31. Exactly

+1

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 06:40 PM

20. Yes (nt)

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 06:43 PM

21. I don't know.

I don't like to generalize about people. We are all just trying to get from Point A to Point B. I'll just say that if something was wrong when Bush/Cheney did it, it's wrong when Obama does it. How can it be anything else? If someone wants to tell me why that's wrong, I don't agree, but I'll listen.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 10:00 PM

23. In case you haven't noticed,

these are BUSH's wars. He started them both. O inherited them both; he has already ended one and is in the process of ending the other.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 11:31 PM

24. O look! a conservative atacks liberals as hypocrites!

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 08:36 AM

25. No, just realistic

Any notion that "elect this guy and the wars will suddenly stop" was never realistic. We were deeply in two active wars at the time. No President was simply going to pull out. The wars were never going to end until Bin Laden was dead. One war is over, Bin Laden is dead, and now that he is dead the other is quickly ending.

It was never going to be any other way. The troops will leave and the drone strikes will taper off and end as they come home. A democratic President was never going to do less than "everything necessary" to prevent another attack. Regardless of whether that prevents an attack or not. The people need to believe that "everything necessary" was done, and increasingly they do.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 08:46 AM

26. Yes - Without Question

eom

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 08:46 AM

27. No. Not from what I can see.

But some Democrats are. There is a difference.

-Laelth

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 09:09 AM

28. Yes

 

And also about all of the other Obama assaults upon individual freedom, constitutional law, and human rights.

He is proving to be more of the same - either because of the corruption which power brings, or because he is being coerced into it for fear for his family.

Truly, I think that de Tocqueville's fear that the great American experiment of a self-governing democratic republic might fail because of the development of violent and incommensurable political parties ultimately leading to the tyranny of the majority subordinating the counsel of the wise by the prejudices of the ignorant is coming to fruition in this generation.


Still an insightful read, almost 200 years later.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 09:57 AM

29. "Obama's wars?"

I must have been away too long. Obama started a war? With whom?

Germany's media are usually very quick to report that kind of thing, and I've heard nothing.

Does this mean I have to start watching Fox? (Rhetorical question--we don't get Fox in Germany).

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 10:32 AM

30. Troops in Iraq 1/2009, 139,000. Troops in Iraq today, 200. Promise kept.

President Obama is ending Bush's wars. Which ones are you talking about?

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